Sunderland 2 Crystal Palace 1

Last updated : 18 May 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Ten-man Crystal Palace won a dramatic sudden death penalty shootout to book their place in the first division play-off final.

Sunderland overcame a first leg deficit with two goals in a three-minute spell just before the interval, only for substitute Darren Powell to send the game into extra-time with a disputed last-gasp equaliser.

John Oster hit the post from Sunderland's first spot-kick but Tommy Smith, Phil Babb, Carl Robinson and Gary Breen all scored to cancel out efforts from Andy Johnson, Dougie Freedman, Neil Shipperley and Tony Popovic, Shaun Derry having his penalty saved by Mart Poom.

Nico Vassen saved from Jason McAteer, Poom denied Wayne Routledge, but when Jeff Whitley's weak effort was saved, Michael Hughes refused to let the Black Cats off the hook again.

Sunderland, however, only had themselves to blame for not grabbing a possible chance to bounce back into the Premiership at the first attempt after Julian Gray was sent off in the 85th minute for a second bookable offence.

Referee David Pugh failed to spot a blatant push on Poom that allowed substitute Powell to head home Derry's 90th minute corner, but the Black Cats lacked guile and width to take advantage.

Palace's decision not to sit on their slender advantage from the first leg should have paid early dividends and left their opponents with a mountain to climb.

Only a brilliant save by Poom kept out a third minute effort from Gray and Aki Riihilahti hit the post three minutes.

In contrast Sunderland looked nervous and hesitant with players constantly caught in possession, but two goals just before the break shattered Palace's domination.

Kevin Kyle chested down a delicate pass from McAteer to slam the ball home in the 42nd minute and three minutes later McAteer was again the provider for Marcus Stewart to head home at the near post.

Palace were never out of the hunt, however and fully deserved to progress to the final against either Ipswich Town or West Ham at Cardiff on Saturday week.

Palace manager Iain Dowie hailed his team's performance: "That's the proudest I have been as a manager," he said. "I thought it was a travesty of justice that we were two down at half-time.

"But that happens in football and we had a chat and nobody, not even Mick McCarthy, could say we didn't deserve a goal.

"These lads have worked their socks off and I don't think I have enough superlatives to describe how proud I am of them."